BUFFALO, N.Y. — Patrick Gallivan thinks he and his fellow state lawmakers should get back to doing their jobs and should place limits on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s authority.
“It’s my opinion that we’re well past the point where the Governor should be continuing to exercise emergency power,” Gallivan said.
The Republican state senator from Elma says the legislature did the right thing in March when it granted Cuomo sweeping powers to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, leadership in both chambers has shown little interest in limiting the Governor's ability to make law with the stroke of a pen.
Legislation that passed through both the Assembly and Senate provided Governor Cuomo the ability to “order temporarily suspend any statute, local law, ordinance or orders to cope with the disaster.”
Also built into that law is the flexibility for the legislature to ”terminate executive orders at any time.” But state lawmakers have not altered any Cuomo executive order in the nine months since handing him the emergency authority.
Gallivan says he often hears complaints from fellow lawmakers and constituents about Cuomo’s unchecked authority to issue pandemic guidance, rules and regulations.
“We see the low incidence of infection spreading in gyms, in salons, in bars and restaurants and I question, if that’s the case, why do we have these severe restrictions, and why are the restaurants closed right now?” Gallivan asked.
The most vocal critics of the governor’s COVID-19 powers are Republicans, but Democratic lawmakers have chimed in with their displeasure too.
Bronx State Senator Alessandra Biaggi was quoted, in October, in The Gothamist noting, "(Governor Cuomo) has accumulated an outsized level of power over the course of his reign and during this pandemic.”
With new super-majorities in both the Assembly and Senate, Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate President Andrea Stewart-Cousins could move to reduce, limit, or even eliminate Cuomo’s power over the state government. But neither leader has shown an interest in curbing the Governor’s power.
Gallivan says there would be an opportunity next month to review the emergency authority legislation when both chambers return to Albany for a new legislative session.
Barring that, there is a time limit on Cuomo’s emergency powers. The authority is set to expire at the end of April.